Arun Joshi, Hindustan Times
Jammu, October 31, 2006
A Jammu court on Monday acquitted the six men accused of the 2002 fidayeen attack on the Raghunath temple in which 11 people were killed. Taking the investigating officers to task, the principal sessions judge observed that though there were 84 witnesses in support of the chargesheet, there was "not an iota of evidence" in their statements against the accused.
The judge observed that there was sufficient material in the file, in the statements of the investigating officers and the case diary dated April 14, 2002 against Virender Sharma, from whom a huge quantity of arms and ammunition was recovered, but "it is astonishing to find that he had not at all been arrayed as accused in the present case". The judge ordered that a notice be issued to the investigating officer to explain why Sharma was not made one of the accused.
On March 30, 2002, two armed militants had forced their way into the Raghunath Temple after hurling grenades in Raghunath Bazar damaging shops and vehicles. The duo opened fire indiscriminately resulting in the killing of many devotees. The security forces launched a counter attack and eliminated the armed militants in an encounter.
A case was registered under Prevention and Suppression of Sabotage Act and Terrorism Act. During the investigation, SDPO, City East, Jammu informed the investigating officer of this case on November 16, 2002 with regard to accused persons arrested in another case pertaining to Rajiv Nagar massacre that took place in July 2002, about hatching of conspiracy by the accused at Surankote to carry out the attacks at Jammu. A case under section of Prevention and Suppression of Sabotage Act, Terrorism Act was registered and investigations were initiated. The police arrested all the accused. But, as the police failed to file charge sheets within the stipulated period, the accused were released on bail in 2005 on different dates.